A New Prototype: Research Desktop

Fact: The international conference on Advances in Social Network Analysis and Mining (ASONAM 2009, next July in Athens, Greece) today issued its call for papers on “experimental and theoretical works on social network analysis and mining,” particularly relating to online social Web sites, email logs, phone logs and instant messaging systems “which are widely analyzed using graph theory and machine learning techniques.”  Interested authors are encouraged to submit abstracts of up to 300 words by December 10, 2008; the full papers aren’t due until January 31, 2009.  More info at www.asonam.org.

Analysis: Several Microsoft Research people are preparing papers based on their current research, and I’m considering attending myself (I’ve written before about MSR’s work in analyzing large social networks). There are three Microsoft scientists on the Committee (Dou Shen, Haizheng Zhang, and Rina Panigrahy – check out Rina’s publications on hashing and sketching algorithms).  It should be a top-notch conference, co-hosted by ACM and IEEE.

But that’s way off in the future – what if you want to look at some research stuff right now? Well, I’ve been going through the related “Socio-Digital Systems” work of MSR Cambridge (UK), and they’ve just added more information to their section here of the main MSR site.  That’s some neat stuff, more on the side of the actual social uses of digital data and the effects on our (still-human?) everyday lives.

Here’s something else very cool: an MSR prototype called Research Desktop, “a project aimed to demonstrate Microsoft innovation in the area of content management and analysis and design of personal information management environments,” in the words of the background literature.

I’d put it more simply: it’s aimed at helping you if your work involves research in any way, or you consider yourself one of those buzzwords, an “information worker” or “knowledge worker.” If you’re in the intelligence-analysis business, you’ll recognize many of the themes as a social-software collaborative analytic environment, including social tagging, bookmarking, and sharing.

On the Research Desktop site, check out the videos listed on the right hand side as “Video Demos.” You can view them one-by-one, each describing different facets of the Research Desktop design and capabilities, but if you want to just watch one, check out the 3-minute “Research Desktop in Action” demo.  

Researchers, from historians and sociologists to market specialists and financial analysts, engage in a range of activities in order to accomplish their tasks. This often involves gathering relevant sources of information and reading through the material to find important aspects of a topic. After analyzing the material they communicate their findings to their colleagues and the rest of the community in form of publications or online discussions.”

“In contrast to workflows of well structured business processes, researchers conduct their work in different ways depending on their experience, style, and preferences… Research Desktop provides dedicated information spaces: personal Library to collect books, manuscripts, relevant articles and media, and Notes to enable simple storage and access to content snippets, URLs, and other bits of information that can easily be misplaced or can be difficult to find.”

“Research Desktop is powered by a selection of tools and services that can be used in various contexts. Users can easily analyze individual books or collections of publications, create a co-author network, and discover trends in data. It revolutionizes the way we work by providing easy access to functionalities that are typically hidden within applications or not commonly found in the desktop environment.”


Let me know if you find the prototype of interest; we’ve already had some government people who’ve expressed interest in access to it. 

Work like this takes smart people, and MSR is lucky to have a great collection of them. We’ve just added another: Danah Boyd, the well-known Web 2.0 researcher (she prefers just “2.0” to ensure the social elements are emphasized) just announced this week on her blog that “I will be joining Microsoft Research in January.”  She has a great way of describing her attraction to MSR and the types of things she intends to work on, at the new MSR lab in the “other” Cambridge (Mass).  Since that lab is focusing on the social sciences (the softest of all sciences, and therefore naturally where I did doctoral work), I’m really looking forward to working with her.

Email this post to a friend

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

5 Responses

  1. Wow. This looks like a perfect “cloud” app for the thin client laptop that Bob Gourley posted about. I hope MSR continues to dedicate funds to its development.


  2. very nice site 🙂


  3. […] One of the more popular posts I wrote in 2008 about Microsoft Research prototypes was about the “Research Desktop” project, bringing together semantic analysis with Web 2.0-style user interfaces. MSR is now supplementing […]


  4. Awsome! I wish I could have it right now!!!! Pleaseeee?!!!


  5. […] has its technical roots in an MSR project that I wrote about back in 2008, “Research Desktop,” combining semantic analysis with Web 2.0-style user interfaces.  It’s designed to […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: